How to repot a cactus

How to repot a cactus

Discover how to repot a cactus with the help of our practical guide.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
To do
To do

Do not To do in January

Do not To do in February

Do not To do in March

Do To do in April

Do To do in May

Do To do in June

Do To do in July

Do not To do in August

Do not To do in September

Do not To do in October

Do not To do in November

Do not To do in December

Cacti such as rebutia and mammillaria make attractive, low-maintenance houseplants and are perfect for a bright, sunny windowsill.

For the best results, grow cacti in specialist cacti compost or free-draining compost. Terracotta pots are ideal as they’re porous and allow water and air flow. Plastic pots retain more moisture, so water plants less and ensure the compost doesn’t get too wet.

Contrary to what you might think, cacti do need watering in spring and summer. Let the compost dry out slightly between waterings until September, when watering must be reduced to allow for dormancy.

To stop your cacti getting pot-bound, repot every three to four years or when the roots reach the side of the pot. Here’s how to do it.

Fold a tea towel into a loop, or roll layers of newspaper. Wrap it securely around the body of the cactus to protect your hands.
Advertisement

You Will Need

  • Tea towel or sheets of newspaper
  • Slightly larger pot
  • Free-draining compost or cactus compost
  • Fork
  • Horticultural grit
  • Watering can

Step 1

Fold a tea towel into a loop, or roll layers of newspaper. Wrap it securely around the body of the cactus to protect your hands against the sharp spines.

Wrapping a tea towel around the cactus
Wrapping a tea towel around the cactus

Step 2

Carefully lean the plant, in its pot, onto its side and, using the tea towel to grasp it, gently slide the plant out of its pot.

Sliding the cactus out of its pot
Sliding the cactus out of its pot

Step 3

Choose a new pot one size bigger than the original and half fill it with specialist cacti compost or a sharply draining mix.

Adding compost to the new pot
Adding compost to the new pot

Step 4

Check the roots for signs of pests or disease and gently tease out any roots that have become compressed, with a fork.

Teasing out roots using a fork
Teasing out roots using a fork

Step 5

Use the looped tea towel to help you lift the cactus into its new pot, positioning it at the same depth as it was in its previous pot.

Lowering the cactus into its new pot
Lowering the cactus into its new pot

Step 6

Fill in around the root ball with more compost, firming it gently to remove air pockets and then top-dress with grit. Water.

Fill around the rootball with compost
Fill around the rootball with compost
Advertisement